A Better Connecticut Education Reform Lobbying Group, Achievement First/ConnCAN, Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Corporate Welfare, Doug McCurry and Dacia Toll, Education Reform, Excel Bridgeport Inc., Hartford, Jonathan Sackler, Malloy, Matt Poland, Mayor Bill Finch, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Morgan Barth, Stefan Pryor, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Teach for America Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Matt Poland, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Teach for America
There will be 210 fewer job openings in the Hartford School System for Connecticut residents thanks to Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Matt Poland and their allies on the Hartford Board of Education.
While hundreds of qualified, certified Connecticut teachers are unemployed and hundreds of additional Connecticut residents will be seeking teaching jobs after graduating from Connecticut institutions of higher education and completely comprehensive teacher training programs, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra led his political appointees in a 6-2 vote to give Teach for America another three-year contract with the City of Hartford.. In exchange for the $650,000 finder’s fee, Teach for America will send 210 new recruits to teach in Hartford Schools.
Mayor Segarra appoints the majority of members to the Hartford Board of Education. All of his appointees, including out-going Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland, voted in favor of the TFA contract.
In this case the actual deciding vote came from the Hartford Board of Education’s one elected Republican who, “coincidently,” was “elected” chairman of the Hartford Board of Education last night as Segarra’s choice for the position.
Only Working Families Party member Robert Cotto and Michael Brescia, a former Buckley High School teacher, voted against the TFA contract.
Although the TFA recruits only get five weeks of training, they are paid the same salary and given the same benefits as teachers who already hold teacher certification in Connecticut and who have gone through a full college-level teacher training program.
The Hartford Courant update on the vote is below, but for background purposes,
According to Forbes Magazine, as of 2012, Teach for America collects in excess of $318 million a year to enlist recent college graduates to teach in low-income communities throughout the United States.
Wendy Kopp is the Founder and Chair of TFA’s Board of Directors. Until recently she was Co-CEO of Teach For America. Now, in addition to being the Chair of TFA’s Board of Directors, Kopp serves as Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Teach For All, a new TFA spin-off company that is trying to recreate TFA in the global marketplace.
Connecticut billionaire Steven Mandel Jr. is the Treasurer of Teach For America’s Board of Directors. Mandel is not only a major campaign contributor to Governor Malloy but has donated tens of millions to support the corporate education reform industry. Mandel played a pivotal role in the creation of Excel Bridgeport Inc. and the related ongoing effort to privatize public education in Bridgeport.
In addition to her TFA work, Wendy Kopp is married to Richard Barth, Jr. Barth serves as the CEO of the KIPP charter school chain. KIPP is one of the biggest players in the corporate education reform industry with 141 charter schools in 20 states.
Interestingly, Morgan Barth, who illegally taught and served as an administrator at Achievement First, Inc. for six years before becoming Commissioner Pryor’s “Turnaround Director” is a close relative of Barth and Kopp.
Of course, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor is the co-founder of Achievement First, Inc. Achievement First Inc. is the charter school management company with schools in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island. Achievement First Inc. has also been the charter school company that has received the most financial benefit from Malloy and Pryor’s pro-charter school policies.
Not long ago Achievement First, Inc. added Elisa Villanueva Beard to their Board of Directors. Elisa Villanueva Beard is a long time TFA senior executive and became TFA’s Co-CEO when Kopp left to become CEO of that new TFA spin off company.
Jonathan Sackler, a leading corporate education reform advocate in Connecticut and another major Malloy donor has been part of the Achievement First Inc. Board of Directors since it was co-founded by Stefan Pryor. Sacker also formed ConnCAN and ConnAD, which is now called A Better Connecticut.
ConnCAN, ConnAD and A Better Connecticut led the record-breaking $6 million dollar lobbying effort in support of Governor Malloy’s “Education Reform” initiative. These groups, along with Steve Mandel and Excel Bridgeport Inc., played the key role in support of Mayor Bill Finch’s failed effort to eliminate an elected board of education in Bridgeport. They also pumped a significant amount of money into Fich’s failed effort to elect Bridgeport Board of Education candidates who would support Paul Vallas. (They failed Vallas leaves his post in Bridgeport this coming Friday). Finch is a leading supporter of Achievement First’s Bridgeport Charter School and is lobbying on behalf of Capital Prep Steve Perry’s attempt to use his own private company to open a charter school in Bridgeport.
Jonathan Sackler also created 50CAN, a company dedicated to spreading the ConnCAN model across the country. Sackler formed 50CAN and serves on its Board of Directors. 50CAN’s Board includes Dacia Toll who not only co-founded Achievement First Inc. with Stefan Pryor, but presently serves as Co-CEO & President of Achievement First, Inc.
Another 50CAN Board Member is none-other-than KIPP Charter School’s Richard Barth Jr. That being the same Richard Barth Jr. who is Wendy Kopp’s husband and Morgan Barth’s relative.
Meanwhile, back in Hartford, the Hartford Courant explains,
“The board voted 6-2 to approve a three-year, $650,940 contract extension between the city schools and Teach For America, a proposal that drew critics and supporters of TFA who addressed the board for more than an hour during public comments.
Teach For America recruits and trains recent college graduates who pledge to teach for at least two years in mostly low-income public schools across the country. The agreement calls for Hartford to pay Teach For America about $3,000 per recruit, with up to 60 TFA hires in 2014-15, up to 70 in 2015-16 and as many as 80 in 2016-17.
Since 2007, the first year of Hartford’s partnership with Teach For America, the district has hired 1,477 new teachers, 14 percent of whom are TFA recruits, said Jennifer Allen, the school system’s chief talent officer.
Rather than graduating from a traditional teacher preparation college, TFA recruits complete five weeks of training and become certified through the state’s Alternate Route to Certification program, administrators said. They also receive ongoing professional development through TFA that Allen called “a remarkable model for supporting new teachers.”
While several Hartford students spoke in support of their TFA teachers, many of the critics Monday, including Andrea Johnson, president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, described the contract as paying a “headhunters fee” and argued that the money should be spent on improving school programs. Board member Robert Cotto Jr., who voted against the extension, also criticized the retention rate.
Among the 22 TFA hires in 2007, three remain in the school system. And of the 31 TFA teachers in the 2011-12 year, 13 still teach in Hartford schools, district data show.
Those numbers reveal that only 13 percent of the 2007 TFA recruits are still teaching in Hartford after six years and 58 percent of the 2011 TFA recruits have already bailed.
Of course, the contract states that TFA keeps its $3,000 per recruit even if the teacher quits during the first week of school.
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Steve Perry calls himself American’s most trusted educator.
While Hartford and Connecticut taxpayers pay him a full-time salary and benefits to serve as the principal of the Hartford School System’s Capital Prep Magnet School, Perry skips about 20% of the school days so that he can travel the country giving speeches for hire.
When Perry does show up for work he spends an inordinate amount of his time promoting his speaking business through media interviews and his obsessive use of Twitter while on public time.
Most recently, Perry has been busy pushing a plan to use his private company to open up a charter school in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Local support for his plan comes from corporate education reform industry ally Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Finch’s campaign treasurer, Kenneth Moales. Moales tried and failed to get his own charter school last year, but has used his position on the Bridgeport Board of Education to push the charter school agenda.
Just this past Thursday, Steve Perry was out-of-state giving a speech and holding a book signing session at Winston Salem State University.
The Thursday before Perry was the keynote speaker at a conference at Kent State University in Ohio.
For that one, Perry was introduced at an author, principal and CNN education contributor.
The description went on to say that, “Perry is the founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Conn., which has been cited by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top schools in the country. Capital Prep has sent 100 percent of its predominantly low-income, minority, first-generation high school graduates to four-year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006.”
But of course, that statement is patently untrue.
Capital Prep HAS NOT sent 100% of its graduates to four year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006.
Today Perry is northern Virginia to give the keynote address at the annual VABHMA Gala Reception.
And this time Perry’s bio has been expanded to proclaim that he is not only an educator and author, but that he is also a therapist.
The event biography leads with the following:
Dr. Steve Perry’s heart pumps passion and produces positive change. Featured in CNN’s Black in America series, Dr. Perry is the most talked about innovative educator on the scene today.
Perry is the founder and principal of what U.S. News and World Report has cited as one of the top schools in the country, Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut. Capital Prep has sent 100% of its predominantly low-income, minority, first generation high school graduates to four-year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006.
100% of Capital Prep’s graduates have gone to four year colleges?
Despite the fact that falsifying and padding one’s resume has downed a number of politicians over the years, some individuals apparently continue to believe that they don’t have to live by the same standards, rules and laws that apply to the rest of us.
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When Dan Malloy was running for governor he pledged to make adequate funding for Connecticut’s public schools a priority.
Instead Malloy introduced the most anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-public education corporate education reform industry initiative of any Democratic governor in the country.
Rather than use state education funds to support local schools and take some of the pressure off local taxpayers, Malloy has used scarce public funds to push his own initiatives including implementing the absurd Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Testing scheme and an unfair and inappropriate teacher evaluation system.
Compounding the problem has been Malloy’s devotion to diverting money to Connecticut’s charter schools. In fact, the single largest beneficiary of Malloy’s charter school largesse has been Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company that was co-founded by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.
But Malloy and Pryor have been shoveling public funds to other charter school companies as well.
The charter school management company known as Jumoke Academy/FUSE has been given additional money and control of two neighborhood public schools. The executives of Jumoke Academy have been given management control of the Milner Elementary School in Hartford and the Dunbar Elementary School in Bridgeport. The Chief Operating Officer of Jumoke Academy/FUSE was even appointed to the Connecticut Board of Education by Governor Malloy.
Meanwhile, other charter school companies have already been approved or are seeking approval to open new schools in Connecticut.
Last month, nine new charter school applications were submitted to the State Department of Education.
Despite the inadequate funding for existing public schools and a projected $1 billion state deficit for the year following this November’s gubernatorial election, Malloy’s budget includes funding for at least two new charter schools.
A primary target for the expansion of charter schools has been Bridgeport, in part because Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch is considered a strong charter school advocate. Bridgeport already has four charter schools.
As the Connecticut Post recently reported;
“BRIDGEPORT — An outspoken Hartford magnet school principal, a Rhode Island education reform advocate and a longtime city teacher who also happens to be the mayor’s ex, all want the same thing: open the state’s next charter school here.
The three applications represent a third of nine applications received by the state to open charter schools this fall or next….”
The new plans include two schools prepared to open next fall if they receive approval — the Capital Prep Harbor School, modeled after a Hartford magnet school run by Stephen Perry and the STEAM Academy for Girls, started by Claire Mastromonaco, a fifth-grade teacher at Johnson School, who is also the ex-wife of Mayor Bill Finch.
A third contender is Great Oaks Charter School, a school spearheaded by Maryellen Butke, founding director of the Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now.”
Charter school companies see Connecticut as a prime target for expansion because not only does the state give charter schools money for every student they take in, but the cost to transport those charter school students and the cost to provide them with special education services continues to be paid by the local school district.
The Connecticut Post article goes on to summarize the three new Bridgeport charter school proposals;
Charter School Proposal #1
Mastromonaco said she has always wanted to start a school for girls. A classroom teacher for 18 years, Mastromonaco also runs the Children’s Center for the Arts. Her background is in the arts, but she loves the sciences and math and said she sees too many of her female students lose confidence and “check out” by the time they reach middle school.
She said a single-gender school that focuses on science, math and the arts will help them more feel confident.
STEAM would open in the former Holy Rosary School near Washington Park with 108 pre-kindergarten through first-graders and grow to a 252 pre-K to fifth-grade school by its fifth year. The school would strive to be racially balanced, draw from the suburbs and city. Its preschool would be Montessori-based.
Christopher Finch, her son and a teacher in New York City, would serve on her governing board along with several Bridgeport educators and parents.
In a letter of support for STEAM, Bruce Ravage, director of Park City Prep, a charter school that has won permission to add a fifth grade, said Mastromonaco knows the student population well and is in a unique position to address its needs.”
Charter School Proposal #2
“Capital Prep Harbor School
Asked why he’d want to come to Bridgeport, Perry, a lightning rod for school reform issues, talks about the city’s waterfront location, proximity to New York City and its potential.
“Bridgeport has always been one of those cities you heard about,” Perry said. The charter school he would form here would be modeled after the public magnet school he has run in Hartford for nearly 10 years.
It would have a theme of social justice, a longer school day and year, require students to participate in sports and extra-curricular activities, and would strive — according to the 600-page application — to send all graduates to four-year colleges.
“Running it as a charter would be different,” said Perry. “It would create the opportunity for us to be more creative. Quite frankly, there are limits within the structure of a large school system. Even when people don’t want it to, it has to be the same. That sameness presents a challenge to schools like ours.”
Something else that is different is that Capital Preparatory Schools Inc., a private management company run by Perry, would get 10 percent of the fee, $2.5 million over the first five years of the contract. Perry said that is common when charter firms run more than one school. It also remains unclear how much the school would pay for rent.
The Harbor School application said the city has dedicated space in the Bridgeport Technology and Trade Center on Barnum Avenue and the proposed budget shows no rental expenses. The city, however, doesn’t own that property.
Among supporters of the plan are Kenneth Moales Jr., a member of the city school board.”
Charter School Proposal #3
Great Oaks would be a college preparatory school geared largely toward English language learners, who make up more than 13 percent of students in the district.
The school day would be long, stretching from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., followed by after-school activities. The school year would be 200 days, compared to the normal 180 days a year.
There are already Great Oaks schools in New Jersey and New York, said Christina Grant, vice president of the Great Oaks Foundation, who acts a chief academic officer for both schools. The school would start with 100 sixth-graders and work its way up, providing two hours of individualized tutoring to students every day, according to the application.
It would also be located in the former Singer Factory on Barnum Avenue, where three other city charter schools (Bridge Academy, New Beginnings and Park City Prep) all got their start. Great Oaks would pay $10 a square foot for 6,366 square feet. It wants to open in the fall of 2015. Its management fee built into its budget would amount to $1.6 million over the five years.
One of the many letters of support for the proposal came from Meghan Lowney, executive director of the Zoom Foundation, and a behind-the-scenes player when the city school board was taken over by the state in 2011. Great Oaks’ plans, she wrote, are aligned with her efforts to rapidly improve public education opportunities for underserved children by pooling and leveraging financial, human and political capital.”
Although public hearings are required on each proposal, the decision to approve or reject a proposal rests with the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education. The charter school law severely limits the role of local boards of education.
Achieve Hartford, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Clark Elementary School, Malloy, Stefan Pryor Achieve Hartford, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Clark Elementary School, Hartford, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
Three days ago, in a post entitled NEWS FLASH: Pryor reportedly giving Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to Washington D.C. Charter School Chain, Wait What? readers learned of an apparent deal by Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and his senior staff to turn over Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to a major Washington D.C. based charter school management company despite the fact that the Clark Turnaround Committee, which is made up of local parents, teachers, administrators and Hartford residents, hadn’t even begun to identify which of five possible turnaround models they were interested in pursuing.
Out-going Hartford Superintendent of Schools Christina Kishimoto “nominated” Hartford’s Clark Elementary school for Governor Malloy’s “Commissioner’s Network” turnaround program.
State law requires that when a school is accepted as a Commissioner’s Network School, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor must defer to the recommendations of the local Turnaround Committee except in extreme circumstances where the Turnaround Committee fails to adopt a turnaround plan or the plan is so inadequate that the Commissioner must take total control of the school.
But according to multiple sources within Pryor’s Office and in the Hartford Board of Education central office, Pryor and his sidekick, Turnaround Director Morgan Barth, have already decided to give Hartford’s Clark School to the Friendship Charter School chain, regardless of what the Clark Turnaround Committee may choose.
The Friendship Public Charter School chain is made up of six charter schools in Washington D.C. and another four schools that the company runs in Baltimore, Maryland.
Late yesterday, Hartford Courant reporter Vanessa De La Torre reported that a group of Clark parents, educators and administrators were flying to Washington D.C. to visit Friendship Charter Schools. Apparently plans are already in place for Friendship Charter Schools to come to Connecticut in the next week or two.
In the Hartford Courant entitled Hartford Parents, Educators Visit D.C. Charter School, the Courant reported;
A 14-person delegation from Hartford that included six parents from Clark, two teachers, the principal and a district administrator flew out of Bradley International Airport Tuesday night and spent Wednesday visiting two sites of the Friendship Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.
The trip is research, they said. Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor has chosen Clark, a North End neighborhood school that has struggled with low test scores and chronic absenteeism, as a candidate to enter the state Commissioner’s Network after this academic year.
A state-mandated committee for Clark is now under deadline to create a detailed “turnaround” plan by April. That means the panel, which includes two union-appointed teachers, is rushing to explore school models that might best help Clark and its groups of students who are learning English or have special needs, said Soto, one of the committee’s parent members.
However, highlighting the corrosive power of the corporate education reform industry, the most bizarre part of the entire story is revealed when the Courant article added:
Hartford school board Chairman Matthew Poland denied this week that any school model is a favorite. So did community organizer Mayra Esquilin, executive director of Hartford Areas Rally Together, which received a $24,000 contract from the school system to guide Clark parents and community members through the turnaround process.
HART, the school system and the reform advocacy group Achieve Hartford! Funded the short trip to Washington, Esquilin said. The group was scheduled to return Wednesday night.
What the article didn’t fully explain is that although Superintendent Kishimoto hired the Executive Director of Hartford Areas Rally Together to “guide Clark parents and community members through the turnaround process,” Mayra Esquilin has repeatedly shown that she has a major conflict of interest in the entire situation.
Mayra Esquilin is not only the Executive Director of Hartford Areas Rally Together (HART), but she is also a member Achieve Hartford’s Board of Directors.
Achieve Hartford Inc. is not only paying for the airfare and hotel accommodations for the 14 members of the Clark Turnaround Committee to fly to Washington, but the corporate lobbying group has been one of the biggest supporters of Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor’s public school privatization efforts.
Esquilin and Achieve Hartford Inc. not only supported Superintendent Kishimoto’s failed attempt to close Clark Elementary and hand the building over to Achievement First, Inc. but also supported the outrageous and potentially illegal attempt to hand S.A.N.D. Elementary School over to Steve Perry’s private charter school company as part of a that secret Sheff lawsuit deal.
As the Hartford Courant reported previously, Esquilin was quoted as saying “that she and others canvassed the neighborhood over the past few days and found many parents who were uninformed — and in some cases, misinformed — about the SAND proposal.”
It is beyond incredible that the individual and corporate-funded advocacy group that supported destroying Clark and S.A.N.D elementary are now “guiding” Clark parents, teachers and community members through the turnaround process.
Talk about the foxes guarding the chicken hen-house.
And worse, the entire process may very well be short circuited if Stefan Pryor has already decided to hand the school over to an out-of-state charter management company.
Meanwhile, who funds Achieve Hartford Inc.?
According to Achieve Hartford’s own website, the education reform advocacy group is funded by some of the most powerful corporate education reform industry companies in the country including the Aetna, Prudential, Travelers, Bank of America, ING, The Phoenix and Metro-Hartford Alliance.
The potential for serious and illegal conflicts of interests are so great that it is hard to imagine that even these companies would risk supporting such an inappropriate use of their donations by Achieve Hartford Inc.
The extensive list of potential ethics violations will undoubtedly keep the Connecticut’s Ethics Commission and Hartford’s Ethics Commission busy.
For an example of Achieve Hartford’s conflict of interest read the newsletter article that can be found via the following link: http://www.achievehartford.org/upload/files/10-31-13-EducationMattersEXTRA.pdf?utm_source=October+31%2C+2013+Edition&utm_campaign=2-16EM&utm_medium=archive
For the Hartford Courant article go to: http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-clark-school-0213-20140212,0,6213104.story
Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Friendship Public Charter Schools Inc., Hartford, Malloy, Stefan Pryor Christina Kishimoto, Friendship Charter Schools Inc., Hartford, Stefan Pryor
Sources close to Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor report that the Charter School loving Commissioner of Education has committed to give Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to Friendship Charter Schools Inc., a major charter school management company based in Washington, D.C.
Malloy’s Commissioner of Education recently announced that he has “accepted” Hartford’s Clark Elementary School into the Connecticut State Department of Education’s “Commissioner’s Network.”
Although the law requires an inclusive “turnaround” process that is supposed to include local parents, teachers, school officials and community members, multiple sources, including one close to Stefan Pryor, report that Malloy’s Commissioner of Education has already decided that the final “Clark School Turnaround Plan” MUST be to hand the day-to-day operation of the Hartford elementary school over to Friendship Public Charter School Inc.
The Friendship Public Charter School chain is made up of six charter schools in Washington D.C. and another four schools that the company runs in Baltimore, Maryland.
Donald Hense, who is the Founder and Chairman of Friendship Public Charter Schools Inc., is a long time charter school advocate. In 2011, Hense was an inductee into “the National Charter Schools Hall of Fame” at the annual meeting of the National Charter Schools Conference.
According to Internal Revenue Service reports filed in 2011, Friendship Charter School Inc. provided Hense with a compensation package of approximately $300,000.
In that year, the company had revenues of $71 million and expenditures of about $67 million. Of its revenue, $60 million came from tuition fees paid by the city governments of Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland and another $9 million came from other government grants.
Like many charter school management companies, the Friendship Charter Schools Board of Directors is made up of corporate education reform industry executives and their allies.
The Friendship Charter School Inc. Board includes Gregory Prince (President, Educational Services Associates), Carol Thompson Cole (President & CEO, Venture Philanthropy Partners), Deborah McGriff (Partner, NewSchools Venture Fund), Chris Whittle (an education entrepreneur who founded the ill-fated Edison Schools and now serves as the chief executive officer of Avenues: The World School, “a planned international system of independent pre-K-12 schools) and Kevin P. Chavous (CEO of the Chavous Group, an education reform consulting and public relations group).
The President of Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) not only serves on the Board of Friendship Schools, but the education reform investment company has also played a major role in funding Friendship Schools and its aggressive expansion plans. Venture Philanthropy Partners also invests in a variety of other charter school management companies including KIPP. KIPP owns and operates a chain of 141 charter schools in 20 states.
Friendship Schools is also closely associated with the NewSchools Venture Fund, a corporate funded financial investment company that is “committed to transforming public education through powerful ideas and passionate entrepreneurs.”
In the “small world” department, one the NewSchools Venture Fund Board members includes none-other-than Jonathan Sackler, who played a vital role in the creation of Commissioner Stefan Pryor’s Achievement First charter school management company and is responsible for the creation of ConnCAN and 50 CAN. Sackler and his wife are two of Governor Malloy’s biggest campaign contributors having donated the maximum allowable amount of $10,000 each.
Assuming Malloy’s Commissioner of Education is successful in forcing Hartford to turn Clark Elementary School over to the Friendship Public Charter School Inc.; Hartford will be home to yet another “no excuses” school that is widely known for its harsh disciplinary policies.
One of the Friendship Public Charter Schools made the news in 2012 when a Washington D.C. television station ran the story entitled, “Teacher at Friendship Public Charter School Accused of Taping Visually Impaired Student To Chair; Teacher has been placed on administrative leave.”
According to the media report;
“A teacher at Friendship Public Charter School has been placed on administrative leave after allegedly taping a nine-year-old visually impaired student to a chair.
The alleged incident happened Wednesday afternoon during an after school tutoring program at the Friendship Blow Pierce Junior Academy Campus in Northeast.
Christian Washington, a fourth grade student, says he asked his teacher if he could get up, and when he did for a second time, the teacher first threatened to tape him to his chair, and then did. Washington says he was wrapped with the tape several times around his chest and his legs. He says he was embarrassed.
“She was laughing. Everybody in the class was laughing at me,” Washington says…
No doubt about it, the Malloy/Pryor “we know best” strategy of privatization of our public schools continues to be the cornerstone of Malloy’s education reform policies.
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According to the charter school application submitted by Steve Perry’s private charter school Management Company;
“The Capital Prep Harbor School (the “Harbor School”) is designed as a replication of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School (“Capital Prep”) in Hartford, Connecticut. The founders of Capital Prep have developed an internationally recognized model designed to prepare children from historically disadvantaged populations to compete and ‘win’ in education. Capital Prep has proven that all children when given the right conditions and environment not only succeed but excel in their academic as well as their social-emotional growth.”
As the Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education consider Steve Perry’s 600 page application to open a new charter school in Bridgeport, their first task will be to overlook the fact that Perry’s Hartford Prep Magnet School refuses to provide equal access to Latinos and other children who deal with English language barriers.
Perry’s Hartford school also fails to take its fair share of students who need special education services, and it is alleged that the special education students Capital Prep does enroll don’t get the services mandated in their Individual Education Plans (IEPs). There are widespread rumors that Capital Prep is being investigated as a result of its utter failure to meet federal and state special education laws.
The data on Capital Prep’s failure to provide equal access is stark and extremely disturbing;
||Hartford School System
||Capital Prep Magnet School
|Students not Fluent in English (ELL)
|Students who come from homes where English is not the primary language
|Special Education Students
In addition, the disciplinary tactics utilized at Capital Prep Magnet School have raised equally serious concerns. Students being forced to sit at the “Table of Shame,” students being required to stand while eating lunch, students being made to state during entire academic classes and students being made to stand facing the wall for long periods of time in administrators offices are all examples of disciplinary policies that may cross into child abuse.
Perry’s charter school application reports that he and his senior staff have been working with Bridgeport officials and community leaders for months. The application reads;
“Founding members continuously met with local officials, including Mayor Bill Finch and his Education Adviser, Joshua Thompson, as well as local community-based organizations, religious leaders and representatives from Housatonic Community College.”
So who are these Bridgeport supporters?
Listed as Governing Council Members for Perry’s new Charter School are;
Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr., Senior Pastor Cathedral of the Holy Spirit
- As directly quoted from his resume, Moales also lists himself as CEO/Founder C.R.E.A.M. Inc. and says that in that capacity he, “Earned endorsement from Mayor, local newspaper, Democratic District leaders and Democratic Clubs in Bridgeport CT for Board of Education” and “Exhibited tireless energy, positive attitude and visionary leadership” and “Revamped entire department bringing in all new Commissioner.”
- Kenneth Moales Jr. who continues to serve on the Bridgeport Board of Education is also Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer.
Reverend Carl McCluster, Senior Pastor Shiloh Baptist Church, Bridgeport
- McCluster also lists himself as Founder, Managing Director, Senior Program office for F.R.E.E.D.O.M. Inc. a National Economic Development Consulting Firm
Reverend William McCullough, Senior Paster Russell Temple CME Church in Bridgeport.
- McCullough also lists himself as the Founder and CEO of U-Turn Ministries, FaithCARE and Safe Streets Kids (SSK)
Teresa Wilson, Executive Director V.I.P. College Preparatory Program, Inc., Bridgeport CT.
Wilson reports that she coordinates “college tours for areas high school students” and “collaborates(s) with various school districts and school administration in selection of students to attend tour….”
Gwendolyn Brantley, ACCESS Education Services, Bridgeport, CT.
Brantley’s adds her duties are to “Administer and manage an academic enrichment program for middle and high school students.”
Meanwhile, appended to Perry’s charter school application are a series of letters of support. They come from:
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch who writes, “As Mayor of Bridgeport, I am writing to express my full support of the proposal of by Capital Prep Harbor School to open a state charter school in fall of 2014 that will serve the children and families of Bridgeport. I am honored by the decision of the Capital Prep team to bring their outstanding academic model to Bridgeport within the context of a top-tier high school program…”
Other letters of support are from:
State Representative Charles Clemons
Teresa Wilson writing on behalf of the VIP College Prep Program. (Note that Wilson serves on the proposed charter school’s Governing Council.)
Reverend Carl McCluster writing on behalf of Shiloh Baptist Church. (Note that McCluster serves on the proposed charter school’s Governing Council.)
Gwendolyn Brantley writing on behalf of ACCESS Education Services. (Note that Brantley serves on the proposed charter school’s Governing Council.)
And Kenneth Jackson, founder of Kenneth Jackson’s Mentoring Services
Considering that Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, has consistently supported charter schools at the expense of public district schools and has ducked his obvious conflict of interest when it comes to his support for charter schools, it will be interesting to watch whether Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor are successful in railroading this controversial and flawed charter school application through the State Board of Education.
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Even a cursory review of the facts reveal that Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry is violating Hartford Board of Education policies, and potentially state laws, due to his chronic absenteeism, his inappropriate use of social media and the fact that he spends an inordinate amount of his work day promoting his profitable public speaking business.
But the most serious breach of ethics, Hartford Board of Education policies and potentially state laws arise from the charter school application that CAPITAL PREPARATORY SCHOOLS INCORPORATED recently filed with Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the State Department of Education.
Steve Perry’s application is to open a new charter school in Bridgeport, Connecticut that would be called the Capital Prep Harbor School.
According to the documents filed with the State Department of Education, the applicant is;
Dr. Stephen Perry, Head of Schools
Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc.
1304 Main St.
Hartford CT 06103
Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. is a corporation filed in the state of Connecticut. According to the incorporation papers filed with Connecticut’s Secretary of the State, Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. was created on Feb 16, 2012 and is domiciled at 40 Middlefield Street in Middletown, Connecticut. Steven Perry is recorded as the President of Capital Preparatory Schools Incorporated and that address is also Perry’s residence.
At the same time, according to the documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Capital Preparatory Schools Incorporated is actually located at 1304 Main Street in Hartford, Connecticut.
But of course, 1304 Main Street in Hartford is the where Capital Preparatory Magnet School is located and Capital Preparatory Magnet School is owned and operated by the Hartford Board of Education.
So according to the Internal Revenue Service, Steve Perry is using a Hartford Board of Education school as the address for one of his private corporations.
His application to open a new charter school in Bridgeport reiterates that point since it lists the official address for the application as: Dr. Stephen Perry, Head of Schools, Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. 1304 Main St. Hartford CT 06103
The policies of the Hartford Board of Education limit outside employment for its employees. Hartford BOE Policy # 4138 reads:
Non-School EmploymentPersonnel of the schools may receive compensation for activities outside of the compensated work time as long as these activities do not interfere with the proper discharge of their assigned duties, do not constitute a conflict of interest, or do not cause poor public relations within the community. It is expected that any outside activity should be carried on in a business-like and ethical manner.
All employees shall notify the superintendent of outside activities that may interfere with the performance of normal duties.
If an outside activity occurs during compensated work time and the superintendent permits the employee to participate, any compensation given the employee shall be remitted to the district.
Since Steve Perry is openly running a private business out of a public school, the first question for the Hartford Board of Education and Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is whether Perry properly notified them that he was running his private company out of their facility and whether Kishimoto and the Board signed off on those activities.
The second question for the Hartford Board of Education and Superintendent Kishimoto is whether or not the work associated with Perry’s private company interferes “with the proper discharge” of his assigned duties.
And the third question is whether the Hartford Board of Education is being properly compensated by Perry since the policy clearly states, “If an outside activity occurs during compensated work time and the superintendent permits the employee to participate, any compensation given the employee shall be remitted to the district.”
Making the situation even more incredible is that we now learn that the Hartford Board of Education’s “Perry Problem” goes far beyond Perry.
According to Perry’s Bridgeport charter school application, the Founding Members of the new charter school include a number of Capital Prep Magnet School administrators and teachers, all of whom are Hartford Board of Education employees;
Richard Berganski Jr. (Vice Principal)
Scott Wojnarowicz (Math teacher)
Kelly Horan (Science teacher)
Scott Kapralos (Math teacher and SPJ)
Kitsia Ferguson (Head, Lower School)
Monique Ethier (Math teacher)
Lauren Davern (History teacher and SPJ)
Lisa Loomis (English Teacher)
Is it possible that Superintendent Kishimoto and the Hartford Board of Education has really signed off on the fact that Perry and his entire management team are engaged in running a private business out of a public school?
And if the 600 page Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. application to form a charter school in Bridgeport wasn’t proof enough that significant work is being done through Perry’s private company, the application added,
“The Northeast Charter Schools Network (NECSN) has also teamed with the founding members as a consultant on the preparation of this charter schools application.”
The Northeast Charter Schools Network is a registered lobbying entity in the state of Connecticut and NECSN and its immediate predecessor the Connecticut Charter School Network were part of the $6 million coordinated campaign to support Governor Malloy’s corporate education reform industry initiative.
As the Northeast Charter Schools Network brags on their website;
“Our experienced advocacy staff understands that despite tremendous promise and performance, charter schools are under constant attack. NECSN’s team has been successful on many fronts, bringing significant victories to the charter school movement despite tough budget cycles…”
In addition the Northeast Charter Schools Network reports that, “…member schools have access to Elevate Charter Schools…Elevate provides: charterGO, a charter start program for new school applicants; charterSHIELD, an audit and compliance program featuring a continuous improvement plan that is based on an in-depth review and alignment of a school’s charter to its academic program and authorizer requirements; and, charterRENEW, a program designed to walk schools through preparation for charter renewal.”
As “Head of Schools,” for Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. Steve Perry is clearly investing significant amounts of money and time building his private company.
As the charter school application clearly reflects, that effort includes the Vice Principal of Capital Prep and more than half a dozen other Hartford Board of Education employees.
The question now isn’t whether Steve Perry is running a private company out of a public school, the question, yet again, is whether anyone in authority will step forward to ensure the Steve Perry and is fellow operatives are forced to follow the laws, rules and policies that everyone else must follow.
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The Hartford Bridgeport Board of Education is paying Steve Perry a large salary to serve as the Principal of its Capital Prep Magnet School. Perry has a twelve month contract so he is supposed to be “on duty” year around.
Although Perry has missed 20 percent of the Capital Prep school days this year, he has been paid for those missed time thanks to banked vacation days, sick days and personal days.
But he actually spent those days traveling around the country giving speeches for hire.
Most recently, the news is that Steve Perry has submitted an application to open up a Steve Perry Capital Prep Charter School in Bridgeport.
Perry intends to use the charter school management company that he set up a few years ago.
According to the official documents filed at the Connecticut Secretary of State, Perry’s private company is housed at his home in Middletown and he is the sole owner of the entity.
However, Perry filed documents with the Internal Revenue Service claiming that his company is really housed at the same address as the Hartford public school that he runs.
The immediate question that arises is that although he was being paid by the taxpayers of Hartford for his full full-time job with the Hartford Board of Education and making far more money thanks to his speaking business, Perry had time over the past few months to create a 600 page Charter School Application and meet with state and local officials to lobby for their help and support.
It certainly isn’t clear who paid for the development of the application or how he managed to hold down two jobs and still develop his Steve Perry Capital Prep Charter School plan.
What is clear is that Perry expects to make a huge windfall from his Charter School Project.
According to the application Perry submitted, the Hartford Board of Education employee is demanding that Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, approve a management fee of at least $2.6 million dollars over the first five years of his Charter School project.
In addition, he apparently expects the City of Bridgeport to pay for the following costs:
- Rent for the Steve Perry Capital Prep Charter School
- Utilities for the Steve Perry Capital Prep Charter School
- Custodial Costs for the Steve Perry Capital Prep Charter School.
And all that money comes on top of the state subsidy that he would be getting.
With Commissioner Pryor’s support, Steve Perry would not only receive a major “startup” grant, but Connecticut taxpayers would hand over approximately $34 million to Perry’s company over the first five years that the school is in operation. By the fifth year, Perry would be expecting a public subsidy in excess of $11.5 million dollars a year to run his charter school.
These funds would be on top of his management fee and the taxpayer support doesn’t even count the millions of dollars Perry would be getting from the taxpayers of Bridgeport to subsidize his school transportation costs and pay for the special education services of the students who would be attending his Charter School.
Putting aside the massive cost and the myriad of problems associated with Perry’s erratic and dysfunctional management style, the ultimate insult to Bridgeport and Connecticut is that Perry claims that his school will provide educational opportunities to the full range of students who attend Bridgeport’s school system.
Perry’s application reports that;
13% of the student body will be for students who need special education services, 6% of the students will be those face English Language barriers and 90% of the students will come from families that are so poor that they qualify for Free/Reduced lunch .
Compare those numbers to the reality of Steve Perry’s Capital Prep School in Hartford.
Instead of a special education population of 13%, Perry’s Hartford school only 6.3% of the students served have special education needs and most of those are not getting the services they need, deserve and are legally entitled too.
Instead of an ELL/Bilingual population of 6% that he is promising Bridgeport, only 3.4% of the students in Perry’s Hartford school face English Language challenges.
And instead of 90% of the children coming from low income households, only 51.4% of his students in Hartford qualifying for Free/Reduced lunches
The truth is that despite the fact that his application is in excess of 600 pages, Steve Perry’s Bridgeport Charter School application appears to be nothing more than a sham.
Oh, and one last extremely revealing note about Steve Perry’s unwillingness to provide equal education opportunities to Latinos and those who face language barriers…
Perry’s Bridgeport Charter School application brags that 6% of the student in his Charter School will be reserved for children who need English Language help. But of course, as the State Department of Education reports, the number of Bridgeport students who need English Language Services is at least 12% and growing. That number that is more than double the percentage that Perry says he will accept in his proposed Bridgeport Charter school and four times the number he allows into Hartford’s Capital Prep School.
The State Department of Education is rushing the approval process through. Check back for more information about when any public hearings on Perry’s Charter School proposal will be held.
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The Hartford Courant and City Line Blog reporter Vanessa De La Torre have the latest news on Steve Perry’s attempt to open a charter school in Bridgeport.
De La Torre refers to “Capital Prep.” wanting to open a charter school but as Wait, What? readers are undoubtedly aware, the charter school application is not from Capital Preparatory Magnet Academy, a Hartford public school, but from a private company that Steve Perry set up as part of a complex strategy to get the City of Hartford and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor to transfer Capital Prep and another Hartford elementary school to Perry’s private company.
The move would have given Perry control of more than 1,000 Hartford public school students and more than $15 million a year in state funds.
The Hartford Board of Education eventually rejected Perry’s scheme, but it now appears that Perry wants to keep his six figure income as a Hartford principal while running a K-12 charter school in Bridgeport.
According to sources within Capital Prep, certain administrators and hand-picked teachers have been promised jobs and promotions in Perry’s proposed charter school.
In addition, with the help of one or more legislators from Bridgeport, Perry has already been lobbying Bridgeport officials to support his charter school plan.
The Hartford Courant reports;
“The state Department of Education received nine applications by its Jan. 24 deadline from organizations interested in establishing state or local charter schools in Connecticut. Today, the state released the list to Cityline after a Freedom of Information request.
Some highlights? Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc., the nonprofit management group run by Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry, wants to open a charter school in Bridgeport this year called Capital Prep Harbor School. As you might recall, Perry recently clashed with organized labor over the failed proposal to have his group take over SAND School in Hartford.
Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), the group that has brought you Jumoke Academy, seeks to open a Booker T. Washington Academy charter school in New Haven.
And Democracy Prep Public Schools, the New York-based charter organization, has proposed opening a school in Hartford in 2016.
…The completed applications — usually large files — are still being processed, said Kelly Donnelly, an education department spokeswoman.”
Perry’s maneuver obviously raises a lengthy list of ethical and legal questions.
As a full-time, 12 month employee of the Hartford Board of Education, Perry is prohibited from using public time or resources to promote any private business.
However, Perry has already missed 20% of the Capital Prep School days traveling around the country collecting fees for giving “inspirational” speeches.
Perry has also consistently used time when he was at school to promote his speaking business.
And there are growing reports that meetings related to Perry’s charter school proposal, including discussions with State Board of Education officials, took place during the work day.
Conducting private business while on state time is both a violation of Hartford Board of Education policies and Connecticut state law.
FOI requests for all communication related to the proposed Perry charter school have or will be submitted to all the various parties. A related issue is that previous FOI requests reveal that Perry has used his private email and phone to conduct public business. Although those records fall within the Freedom of Information purview, Commissioner Pryor’s office has refused to turn over some of those communications.
Meanwhile, word is that Commissioner Pryor and the State Department of Education are moving quickly to set up “public hearings” on these new charter school requests and that Pryor will try to force a vote of the State Board of Education on these charter applications within the next 60 days.
Finally, as Wait, What? readers also know, charter school supporters have become a major source of campaign contributions for Governor Malloy’s political aspirations.
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An updated review of the latest federal and state campaign finance reports reveal that Governor Malloy has collected in excess of $70,000 in campaign contributions from individuals associated with the corporate education reform industry.
Although Malloy has yet to announce whether he will seek re-election next year and he has not filed the necessary paperwork be a candidate, his fundraising operation is in full-swing and the corporate education reform industry has become one of, if not the, largest sources of campaign cash for his political aspirations.
Since Malloy introduced the most anti-teacher, anti-union education reform bill of any Democratic governor in the nation, the corporate reform industry has spent more than $6 million lobbying on behalf of Malloy’s initiatives. One education reform group, A Better Connecticut, which was formed by the present and former CEOs of ConnCAN spent in excess of $2 million television advertisements “thanking” Malloy for his leadership in promoting charter schools and the privatization of public education.
Malloy has also been going to the corporate education reform industry for campaign contributions.
Last year Malloy, a held a lucrative fundraiser for the Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee at the home of Jonathan Sackler, the corporate executive who helped finance Achievement First, Inc., ConnCAN, 50-CAN and other education reform organizations. The fundraiser netted in excess of $40,000 for the Malloy related PAC.
This year the money from the corporate education reform industry has been funneled through the federal and state accounts of the Democratic State Central Committee.
Malloy’s recent contributions include another $20,000 from Sackler and his wife, at least $15,000 from other members of ConnCAN’s Board of Directors and at least $11,000 from members of Achievement First’s Board of Directors. Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, co-founded Achievement First, Inc. and the larger charter school management company has received a major increase in funding since Pryor took over the State Department of Education.
In addition to large contributions from ConnCAN and Achievement First board members, Malloy has collected $10,000 from billionaire Steve Mandel who serves on the TFA Board of Directors and $8,000 from billionaire Eli Broad who is one of the three largest funders of the corporate education reform industry.
According to the various reports it appears that Malloy has collected at least $70,000 for his various campaign related PACs and Committees from the charter school and education reform industry.